Body-worn motion sensors detect balance and gait deficits in people with multiple sclerosis who have normal walking speed

R. I. Spain, R. J. St. George, A. Salarian, M. Mancini, J. M. Wagner, F. B. Horak, D. Bourdette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Scopus citations


While balance and gait limitations are hallmarks of multiple sclerosis (MS), standard stopwatch-timed measures practical for use in the clinic are insensitive in minimally affected patients. This prevents early detection and intervention for mobility problems. The study sought to determine if body-worn sensors could detect differences in balance and gait between people with MS with normal walking speeds and healthy controls. Thirty-one MS and twenty-eight age- and sex-matched control subjects were tested using body-worn sensors both during quiet stance and gait (Timed Up and Go test, TUG). Results were compared to stopwatch-timed measures. Stopwatch durations of the TUG and Timed 25 Foot Walk tests were not significantly different between groups. However, during quiet stance with eyes closed, people with MS had significantly greater sway acceleration amplitude than controls (. p=. 0.02). During gait, people with MS had greater trunk angular range of motion in roll (medio-lateral flexion, . p=. 0.017) and yaw (axial rotation, . p=. 0.026) planes. Turning duration through 180° was also longer in MS (. p=. 0.031). Thus, body-worn motion sensors detected mobility differences between MS and healthy controls when traditional timed tests could not. This portable technology provides objective and quantitative mobility data previously not obtainable in the clinic, and may prove a useful outcome measure for early mobility changes in MS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-578
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Gait
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Outcome measurement
  • Postural balance
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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